I joked to myself that once the laptop was completely paid off, something would go wrong with it. I was partially correct.

I sent off the final payment of the laptop on Dec. 31. On Jan. 4, my desktop died. As mentioned before, I thought it was a hard drive problem. It turned out it wasn’t. A support call to Dell led me to believe it was a heatsink problem, which seemed plausible since it was the heatsink that was exhibiting symptoms. So I ordered a new heatsink, choosing the cheapest shipping available. That meant I waited four days to discover … it wasn’t the heatsink either.

If it wasn’t the drive nor the heatsink, that left the power supply or — gracious me — the motherboard. Another call to Dell support confirmed it was the latter. I had suspected as much when I found a thread on the support forums that matched the symptoms my desktop was exhibiting. The technician on the phone had me take out the memory and disconnect everything from the motherboard except the power connectors. The computer didn’t complain about the memory missing. Motherboard, it is.

Before I called support, I looked up what a replacement motherboard would cost, and my jaw dropped. For that price, I may as well buy a new computer. Thankfully, my machine has 35 days left on its warranty, so the motherboard is being replaced gratis.

Thing is, I just paid off the laptop. I’m not really in the financial straits to upgrade the desktop. I would like to get another two years out of it before I consider getting a new one. Maybe when the second half of the company bonus comes, I’ll buy an extension to the warranty. I’d rather spend $158 now than drop $400-$500 when something goes wrong, and if that something happens a day after the warranty extension expires, I should be ready to get a new system by then.